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Poster: He Live's Date: Apr 12, 2008 8:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jamming frames.

explain? i am not sure....

well, for one i think there is A LOT more variance in the length of the particular jams than you are allowing. as per your example, 73-74 playin's typically range from 15 - 20 minutes, so sometimes you get a version that is 25% longer or shorter... and it was a long slow climb for the band to take the song out for this duration of time, up from the typical 5-6 minute versions from the song's maiden year in 71. first they took it out to 10 then 12 then 15 and so on. and of course post hiatus, they seem to have lost the ability to drop into "playin space" out of nowhere -- versions scaled back considerably, rarely stretching out past 15 minutes from then on.

what you happen to have focused in on is a song that blossomed in 1972, and became a centerpiece of group improvisation over the next 3 years (72-74). certainly there were times when Jerry or Phil, or the whole group "lost track of time" and the music simply flowed out of them like water out of a hose, but the reality of playing music and in particular improvising is, IT's WORK. and all of the amazing Playin' in the Band's that were performed from 72-74, i think they took each one as far as they could musically, and often farther. they were clearly pushing the limits with this tune -- an in the same way that 120BPM is a very comfortable tempo because it is so close to the HUMAN HEART RATE, few musics can boast a single train of thought that ventures much beyond the 20 minute mark -- it represents a NATURAL limit i think -- Coltrane rarely pushed out beyond it -- perhaps RAGA can get out there -- but not much else.

as much as it seems like our heroes employ some sort of cosmic energy to transport us to another plane, and perhaps, on certain instances, this is the case -- most of the time -- THEY WERE WORKING. improvisation is an act of constant listening, striving, and adjustment. they were not using a stopwatch, but they knew when they were reaching the limit. these guys were serious, astute musicians, especially Jerry, Phil and Billy -- none of this happened by accident.



it is well known that GARCIA made the point, once they started GETTING PAID, that they would act as professionals: people were paying good money to see them so they would try and put out a certain QUALITY of performance NIGHT after NIGHT. so what you have is a mix -- and again -- it is the reason we all got hooked : The Grateful Dead were a professional touring act that brought with it the possibility of the UNHEARD and UNEXPECTED, DANGER and CHANCE too-- and maybe tonight they will play dark star -- or a 25 minute, deep PLAYIN'!

i find it more amazing that they consistently played ABOUT 3 HRS of music per show.

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Apr 12, 2008 10:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jamming frames.

Check my pulse, it don't change
Stay seventy two, come shine or rain

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Poster: LighthouseKeeper Date: Apr 12, 2008 9:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jamming frames.

Thanks for your thoughts and intresting insights.
I too thought about Coltrane and other jazz musicians. It does seem like there is something about 20 minutes, I wonder if for some musicians at the time it also has to do with the lengths of LP's.

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Poster: yesss! Date: Apr 12, 2008 10:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jamming frames.

yeah, i was going to mention the lp length time limit re: coltrane and other prolific jammers of the vinyl era. i'm pretty sure that there would have been some epic and exhausting audio excursions were it not for the flaws of the medium. and i know that a lot of the poeple who were going deep and making progressive/improvised/avant/free/jazz/art musics in the 60s/70s -coltrane included- were regularly playing "songs" well over the 20 minute mark live. and if you open the discussion to the real front line freaks and minimalists and musics of other cultures then you need to start considering songs that last hours, days, and, um, years. (see john cage's "aslsp", which is currently in it's 7th year of linear performance and doesn't conclude for another 600+ years).

but as for the dead's sometimes consistent jam lengths- i think it is largely a function of falling into patterns through nightly repetition. if you do something often enough, even if it is something as open to change as a jam, you will most likely develop tendencies or habits that can become predictable and even reliable. so lets say you are jamming along in your fortieth "playin" of the year and trying to say something new or follow some tangent when you notice that billy has switched over to the ride cymbal. then bobby and keith start doing those chords that they like to do when billy does his ride thing. and then phil starts taking some kind of crazy solo way up on the neck of his bass but you decide to ignore that and get into the billy/keith/bobby thing because a couple of months ago you realized that you could do that one cool scale over that part of the jam (you are jerry btw). and then eventually phil realizes that he he is on his own trip and joins everybody else before keith starts doing his new favorite wah licks and everybody responds accordingly. and that keeps happening until nobody has anything new to offer and you decide to play the "let's wrap it up" lick and get out before the thing runs out of steam. then you do it again the next night and, aside from a nastier tiger, a slightly different contour, and a few other variables (billy was in the zone!), it is roughly the same. and then it's off to utica to do it again...

of course sometimes, for whatever reason, things are different and you do "playin" for 45 minutes... http://www.archive.org/details/gd74-05-21.sbd.belkin.2597.sbefail.shnf

oh, and also- most people can't deal with much more than 20 minutes of music that they can't sing along with. it makes them fidgety and prone to restless behavior. and nothing squashes the magic of a serious jam more than some drunk dude yelling "truckin! jerry! hey jerry! truckin' jerry!"...

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Poster: He Live's Date: Apr 12, 2008 8:17pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Professional Touring Attraction -- like the Carnival

yeah i'm sure coltrane and others played long jams -- disregard vinyl/medium limitations -- that is only a fact or of "WHAT WAS RELEASED." music was recorded first onto TAPE and then sold in the vinyl format. as for musics of other cultures and "days of music" those cases are the perfect foils for the Dead. the Dead have the Ritualistic element, it is a key part of what makes them interesting, and it is not dependent on Dogma or Religion. the dead were a popular touring band. as for john cage, the music for piano and percussion is interesting but the rest of that stuff is THEORETICAL MUSEUM PIECE ACADEMICS -- i mean i enjoy Mortin Feldman, but comparing him to the Dead is APPLES AND ELEPHANTS.

there is PLENTY that has come out in the CD era from these "vinyl limited artists" including long "jams." like the entire Coltrane/Vanguard set -- all less than 20 minute tunes -- and this is not tooo far away from his heaviest out-there period to follow.... sure. he played songs for 45 minutes.

otherwise, you are taking a certain viewpoint about cues and repetition -- they were A PROFESSIONAL TOURING ACT, LIKE A CARNIVAL..... look at the setlists... many tours, they didn't really mix it up that much -- a group of 40 songs is played 20 at a time for many nights in succession. sometimes playing in the band took off, sometimes it didn't.

cheers.

This post was modified by He Live's on 2008-04-13 03:17:41

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Poster: orangejulius Date: Apr 12, 2008 3:03pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jamming frames.

I think there's several key factors that have been addressed here. I think the most important ones are:

1. Attention span. After the obligatory 5 minute "song" part of PITB, for example, you've got several 5 minute segments of jamming. Most humans have an attention span of about 5 minutes, even professional musicians. It would be interesting to test this out to see how much time elapsed before GD jams changed mood. I'd guess that you could chunk it into 3 to 5 minute segments. The comments comparing this to jazz musicians are interesting. Even classical symphonies are divided into several movements that rarely stretch beyond 15 to 20 minutes each, if that. I'm reminded of the scene in "Amadeus" where the emperor yawns during a performance and Mozart is told that there were "too many notes" and to "cut some."

2. Professionalism. Concert-goers have expectations about the setlists, length of songs, etc. Generally, you need to keep the masses happy and given them their money's worth. Many attendees would be put off if the Dead jammed for 2 hours straight without any songs in between. Relative few (those reading this, no doubt) would dig it, but music's a business and the Dead needed a large audience to get paid, since the studio albums didn't sell well. So, they probably set time limits to some jams by the number of measures they'd jam for, just as a solo in a shorter song would only be given so many measures, before returning to the chorus/bridge/verse.

Thanks for posing this question. It's a good one to think about.

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Poster: He Live's Date: Apr 12, 2008 8:20pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jamming frames.

excellent summation. thanks....

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Apr 12, 2008 11:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jamming frames.

He Lives: that note about the rhythm of the human heart is intense. Thanks a lot.

Broken heart don't feel so bad,
--- AshesRising

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